GLOUCESTER captain Marco Bortolami has been named Italian player of 2006 by the coaches in the Italian Championship.
Bortolami, who has led Gloucester to second place in the Guinness Premiership following his summer move to Kingsholm, won the award from all the current players playing in Italy and abroad.
He was nominated thanks to his leadership qualities at both club and international level and for his outstanding contribution to the Italian team in the 2006 Six Nations.
Bortolami told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk "I would like to thank all the coaches who voted for me, I always work hard and it nice to see that people appreciate me.
"The Italian team and Gloucester Rugby are very important because they gave me the possibility to play very good rugby. It is a huge honour for me to be captain of my country and also Gloucester and I always give my utmost to both teams."
Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan added: "Marco certainly deserves this accolade - he would be an asset to any side in the Six Nations and has been instrumental for us this season."
Gloucester meet the Exeter Chiefs for the fourth time in competitive action this weekend, this time in the semi-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that this is the sort of game that Gloucester want to be involved in on a regular basis and that he and his team are looking forward to it.
Following the 29-26 loss to Harlequins, club captain Billy Twelvetrees spoke of his disappointment that the Cherry and Whites were unable to cash in on the home side's indiscipline and lose a lead on Saturday afternoon.
Number eight Gareth Evans admitted to a collective feeling of frustration as Gloucester lost narrowly at Harlequins on Saturday, but insisted that there are plenty of positives to draw upon ahead of next Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter.
Gloucester travel to the Stoop on Saturday afternoon to take on Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership. The Cherry and Whites make just two changes from last weekend's win over Connacht as they seek consistency and continuity in their play as Nick Walshe told the local media this week.
Speaking to GRTV after the final whistle, Tom Palmer praised the Cherry and Whites concentration and desire to hold on to a narrow 14-7 victory. The second row topped the tackle charts with 19 as he led the home team's resistance.
Supporters who are still to purchase tickets for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm (kick off 7:45pm) are reminded that Early Bird prices are only valid until 6:30pm on Thursday evening.
The Gloucester Wheelchair Rugby team travelled to Fenton Manor Complex, Stoke on Trent last Saturday to take part in the final round of the GBWR Super Series of the season, knowing just one win would be enough to crown them Division 3 Champions.